100 caps or not, Ahmed Musa is already a centurion

The Super Eagles skipper supposedly made it a century of appearances for the national team on Tuesday, but it has since been discarded.

Ahmed Musa (Instagram/Super Eagles)

All eyes were on Nigeria’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde on Tuesday for two major reasons.

One, was fielding a fringe squad due to a number of regular faces based in the United Kingdom missing out as Cape Verde is a red list country for coronavirus infections, hence they could not travel or risk being in quarantine for up to 15 days upon return to the UK.

The other reason was Ahmed Musa who was set to earn his 100th cap for the national team which was going to put him one short of the record for most caps for the country set by Vincent Enyeama and Joseph Yobo.

Musa started the game and played for 73 minutes, with Lorient forward Terem Moffi replacing him and the Super Eagles winning 2-1 on the evening to maintain a blistering start to their qualification hopes.

At the end of the day, the two reasons to follow this game ended on a high and it couldn’t be any sweeter especially for Musa.

News and felicitations of his milestone was awash on social media however things changed swiftly.

It was revealed according to Fifa records that Musa had 97 caps prior to the Cape Verde match and not 99 as per the Nigeria Football Federation.

“We defer to FIFA in this regard, so Ahmed Musa has 98 caps. If he features, as expected, in the home-and-away matches against Central African Republic in October, he will clock the tally of 100 and the celebrations will follow in full flow,” the NFF said in a statement afterwards.

Two of Musa’s caps are invalid for no fault of his own. One of the games was a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Algeria in November 2017, which the original 1-1 result was cancelled because Nigeria fielded an ineligible player.

The other was in a 3-0 friendly win over Togo in June of the same year where the Super Eagles used nine substitutes which is more than the maximum (six) allowed in a Fifa-certified match. Musa’s brace in that game as a result also doesn’t stand.

One might be incensed by this development asking some questions. Why didn’t the NFF keep it’s records accurately? Wasn’t it aware of the invalid games?

Regardless of this drawback, it takes nothing away from the fine player Musa is. Earning his first cap in September 2010 in a 2-0 win over Madagascar in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the Jos-born player was primed to excel.

Musa has made impact in all the international tournaments he has played. He was part of the triumphant 2013 Afcon team that beat Burkina Faso in Johannesburg for a third continental crown. He played in all but one of the games, netting in the 4-1 over Mali in the semi-finals. Musa provided a hat-trick of assists in the 6-1 bashing of Tahiti at the 2013 Fifa Confederation Cup.

Musa’s finest moment came in the green jersey came at the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. In the former, he scored a brace in a 3-2 Group F defeat by tournament foes Argentina, becoming the first Nigerian to net twice at the global showpiece. In the latter, he banged in another brace against Iceland in Group D which ended 2-0. Musa’s tally of four goals makes him the highest scoring Nigerian at the Mundial.

All these are hallmarks of someone worthy of earning 100 caps or more. By the time Musa reaches the milestone he would join an elusive list of centenary international players that include Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ahmed Hassan, Gianluigi Buffon, Lionel Messi, Javier Zanetti, Xavi, Luis Figo, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eden Hazard and many more.

Still only 28, Musa doesn’t look like he’s quitting any time soon and this means he could earn more caps in the future which could see him surpass greats like Andres Iniesta, Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, Samuel Eto’o, Daniele De Rossi, Philipp Lahm, Diego Forlan, Andriy Shevchenko and others.

The celebrations therefore don’t need to be muted. Let the drums continue to roll for the landmark Musa has surely surpassed.

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Kunle is an avid writer with interest in topics on sports, politics and health. His articles have featured in Goal.com, Opera News and Vanguard News. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in International Relations and is an advocate for people living with Hydrocephalus and other neurological conditions.

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